SBD/February 28, 2012/Franchises

MLB, Frank McCourt Down To Seven Bidders In Dodgers Sale Process

Dodgers received bids worth $1.2-1.5B apiece during second round of bidding
The Dodgers received "multiple bids worth $1.2 billion to $1.5 billion apiece during the second round of bidding for the baseball team," according to sources cited by Matthew Futterman of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. The franchise is "poised to fetch a record price for a U.S. sports team" as MLB execs begin a "new round of vetting for potential owners this week." Sources said that bidders "advancing to the third round included" SAC Capital Advisors Founder Steven Cohen; a group that includes F1 Grand Prix of America Exec Chair Leo Hindery, Clarion Capital Managing Partner Marc Utay and Colony Capital Founder, Chair & CEO Tom Barrack; and another group led by Basketball HOFer Magic Johnson and former Nationals and Braves President Stan Kasten. Other bidders who remain are Rams Owner Stan Kroenke and N.Y. Observer Owner & Publisher Jared Kushner (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/28). A source said that Beverly Hills-based developer Alan Casden and a group headed by Shamrock Holdings President & CEO Stanley Gold and the Disney family are "still in the mix." Although the process "remains officially open to additional bidders, it is so far along and so many hurdles must still be cleared that it's likely this is the final group" (, 2/27). In L.A., Bill Shaikin reports of the "nine parties still in contention last week, the two eliminated" yesterday were Grizzlies Owner Michael Heisley and Brewers minority investor and L.A.-based Ares Capital co-Founder & Managing Partner Tony Ressler. The remaining bidders will proceed to a "multilayered review" by MLB, including consideration "by two committees of owners." Each bidder then will be "subject to a vote of all owners, with three-fourths approval required." If a bidder is "not cleared to proceed to the ownership vote," outgoing Dodgers Owner Frank McCourt "can ask a court-appointed mediator to intervene" (L.A. TIMES, 2/28). A source said that Heisley "remains in the bidding process ... despite a published report to the contrary." Heisley "had not been told that his bid had been rejected." A source said that Heisley's group has a meeting scheduled for tomorrow "with a committee that will include" MLB officials (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 2/28).

: In L.A., T.J. Simers notes former Dodgers Vice Chair Steve Soboroff has some "advice for McCourt: Sell the parking lots, fearing now that if McCourt does not, a new owner will make the same mistake Soboroff did in believing he can overcome it." Soboroff said, "People think it's just going to be better around here because Frank is gone, but it can be 50 times worse." Soboroff added, "I'd tell him to sell the parking lots to the new owner. What's the best-case scenario under the lease agreement for the parking lots? No problems. The worst case is horrendous. You have a landlord-tenant relationship; you have a rental relationship; developmental relationship" (L.A. TIMES, 2/28). Also in L.A., Steve Dilbeck wrote one thing "you have to give McCourt, he always said it was the team and stadium that were for sale, and not the surrounding parking lots." Still, the assumption "was always that that was largely a negotiating ploy to squeeze hundreds of millions more out of the sale." Dilbeck: "I still would love it if all the bidders pulled out if McCourt insisted on retaining the parking lots, but it’s not like I hold out actual hope. As wildly pricey as the property is, it is the team that holds the greatest value" (, 2/24). However, in California, Howard Cole wrote McCourt "is not now, nor was he ever going to keep the parking lots." Cole: "Yes, I get that McCourt would love to keep the land, and revel even more so in the satisfaction that he’s screwed Major League Baseball one last time. But the bottom line will win out. Greed is good, remember, and it trumps making a statement of some kind, especially when no one’s listening" (, 2/27).
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